Using a cell phone inside a New York City subway station is pretty much impossible at the moment. But it looks like the NYC subway system will slowly be adding mobile phone access to its various stations starting later this week. The Associated Press (via Yahoo) reports that six stations located in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan will add cell phone access on Tuesday. The service will only be available for users of AT&T and T-Mobile's wireless networks. There's no word on when or even if Verizon or Sprint customers will be added.
The company that's been handling this massive project is Transit Wireless. While plans for supporting cell phones inside NYC subway stations were first announced back in 2007, the actual work to wire the stations for cell phone use only started recently due to financial issues with Transit Wireless. The company is expected to spend $200 million to make all of the stations in the NYC subway system cell phone friendly. It will also pay $46 million over 10 years in rent to the Metropolitan Transit Authority. In turn, Transit Wireless plans to get money from wireless carriers for the privilege of making their networks available to NYC's subway users.
It's going to take a while before all 276 NYC subway stations have cell phone support. The project is expected to be completed by 2016. The signals will be able to be picked up by people on the station's platforms and mezzanines but the actual tunnels will only have limited access.